General contractors can help finish a basement to add resale value and square footage to a home’s living space. Finishing a basement can be as simple as leveling and finishing raw floors to create a clean storage space or as involved as building in bathrooms, bedrooms, a home theater, a home office, a kitchen, an exercise area, a laundry room or even turning it into a separate apartment. Basement finishing jobs often include installing flooring, walls, windows, doors, a ceiling, trim, built-in shelving, lights or a fireplace. Contractors can oversee the relocation or installation of new outlets and switches, lighting, or heating and cooling vents. Final touches may include carpet and painting. Many factors affect the overall cost of basement finishing.
Contractors consider all the components of a job, including the materials and skilled labor required and the amount of time and permits needed to finish the basement. Using these details, they can create a quote with a price per square foot, which will include all the work to be done. DB General Construction Inc. in Rockville, Maryland, charges an average of $24–$34 per square foot for basement finishing. The price per square foot may increase when basements are small because the amount of work remains high and the company needs to charge a minimum fee to cover the cost of doing business as well as materials and labor. No true estimate can be given until a contractor sees the project in person.
Materials greatly affect the cost of basement refinishing. Top-of-the-line bathroom fixtures, a whirlpool tub and custom recessed lighting will cost more than entry-level options.
Area building codes may require installation of exit windows (for emergencies) when transforming a bare basement into livable space or sleeping quarters. Adding an egress window may require contractors to excavate land and reframe part of an exterior wall to meet this building code, resulting in a higher overall cost.
Adding a new bathroom will increase the cost of finishing a basement. Depending on whether plumbing lines already exist or need to be installed as well as the grade of fixtures and other materials selected, a new bathroom could range from $3,000 to $15,000 or more, explains the bathroom building pros at Viewpoint NW in Vancouver, Washington. A standard full bathroom with a shower should average about $5,000.
A professional electrician or contractor licensed to do electrical work can safely install wiring if a basement has none. For basic work, Ingram Construction LLC in Washington, D.C. charges about $180 to move two outlets and install a third in an exposed basement wall with no drywall. The more switches and outlets installed, the lower the cost per item. For home theaters and projects that require an increase in a home’s total energy capacity, Ingram Construction LLC charges $3,500 to perform what’s called a "heavy up." The company replaces the breaker, installs all new electrical lines and secures necessary permits and licenses.
The choice of flooring selection also affects the total cost of refinishing a basement. The least expensive option may be to stain the existing concrete. Bringing in professionals to install carpet, vinyl or tile flooring, or hardwood floors costs more. For example, W&B Villa Construction in Deerfield Beach, Florida, charges $3.20–$3.50 per square foot to install wood-look tile in spaces ranging from 6x24 feet to 8x48 feet.
Installing a laundry room, bathroom or kitchen all require water and drainage pipes. If there are no existing plumbing lines in the basement, professional plumbers and some licensed contractors can safely install the system, which will increase costs.
Repairs and damage
Addressing any needed repairs before finishing a basement is a good idea and will also increase overall costs of your project. In addition, if pros discover water damage, evidence of termite infestation or structural concerns during a finishing project, the timeline will shift and costs will increase.
Always verify that your contractor is licensed and insured in your state.
Read reviews of previous customers and look at contractors’ portfolios for similar projects.
- Commit everything in writing with a clear outline of budget, time frame and tasks to be completed.